For track athletes to maximize their potential, they must have a great diet. The training and events are energy intensive, so athletes must replenish their reserves more than the average person. This article contains foods that should always be included in a track athlete’s diet. However, it’s imperative to note that everyone has different optimal balances, and so the nutritional needs differ from one person to the next.
Whether specializing in long or short races, track athletes need lots of carbohydrates to fuel their runs. Many people assume that carbohydrates will stifle their training progress because it contributes to weight gain, but that isn’t true.
As you may know, running requires lots of energy. And the said energy is usually stored as glucose derived from carbohydrates. Therefore, you need to include enough carbohydrates in your diet to ensure that your glucose reserves will deplete quickly, leaving you without enough energy to maximize your potential.
For the best results, professionals recommend carb-loading 24-48 hours before a long-distance race. Carb-loading is where you ingest a lot of carbohydrates to fill up your glycogen stores before a big race. For the best effects, you should choose carbohydrates that are easily digested.
Some great carbohydrate options include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Multi-grain bread
- Granola bars
- Pita bread
Eat Protein Rich Food
As for most track athletes, it’s normal to have some form of training planned almost daily. Your muscles will endure a lot because the training might be coupled with gym sessions. Therefore, it’s imperative to eat foods rich in protein is imperative to help you a lot.
Some of the outstanding benefits of proteins for track athletes include the following:
- Muscle repair- eating protein-rich food before or after working out helps repair muscle tissue and reduce inflammation/soreness.
- Muscle building- protein-rich foods contain amino acids which help build muscles, making them stronger and more resistant.
For the best results, it’s advisable to be picky with your protein dishes. Here are some foods you could try in this category:
- Ground beef
- Lean ham
- Ground turkey
- Turkey breasts
- Lean pork
As previously mentioned, most of the fuel needed for running comes from glucose derived from carbohydrates. However, if your diet doesn’t constitute a lot of carbohydrates, meaning your glucose reserves run out mid-training, your body will use fats as fuel.
That said, most athletes tend to cut out fat from their diets for good reasons, especially weight-related ones. However, it’s scientifically proven that everyone should consume at least 1 gram of fat per kilogram of body weight each day for optimal health. Failure to which you risk running out of energy or developing other more severe conditions.
Please note that some fatty foods are considered healthier than others. That said, as a track athlete, it’s in your best interest to go with the healthier ones such as:
- Flax seeds
Fruits and Vegetables
Every track athlete’s diet should contain some fruit and vegetables to be considered healthy. If you want to avoid including them in your main meals, you can get away with eating them as a snack between meals. Unlike the other food groups, the best part is that most of the available options require little to no preparation.
Fruits and vegetables provide the body with a bunch of benefits, such as:
- Significantly reduce the possibility of you falling sick by improving your immunity
- Keep you filled for a long time thanks to its numerous fiber content
- Contains lots of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C& D and potassium, which have vast benefits.
- Lowers your blood sugar which in turn helps you control your appetite.
Some of the fruits and vegetables you should consider adding to your diet include:
Tips to Excel With Proper Sports Nutrition
Having a great diet and workout plan is essential for an athlete. However, to make it easier to achieve optimal performance levels, then here are some additional tips you can employ:
Time Your Workouts
Considering the energy needed for an athlete to train or compete, professionals usually advise them to eat at least six meals and snacks daily. However, it would help if you remembered that some foods take longer to digest. Therefore, timing and knowing what should be eaten and when is also important.
Everyone is Different
Just because your favorite athlete achieved exemplary performance following the XYZ diet do mean that you should do the same. Our bodies, nutritional needs, and training schedule differ, meaning our diets should differ. For the above reason, track athletes are advised to work with a sports nutritionist to help them design a suitable diet plan.
Try and Get Adequate Rest
While it’s great for track athletes to focus on a great diet and workout routine, they should also focus on rest. The average human body needs sleep for about 7 hours a day. This way, your muscles get time to recover, and your body functions are in optimum shape.
One of the biggest potential hindrances to maximizing your track potential is dehydration. Therefore, it’s essential to hydrate before, during, and after your workout considering the amount of water your body would have lost. Also, it’s advisable to avoid things like sugar and coffee that are known to contribute to dehydration.
Gravitate Towards Whole Foods
To be safe, always choose the whole foods version of any food, if available, instead of the processed version. This way, you void ingesting preservatives and chemicals that could harm your performance. As an added precaution, every time you buy manufactured food, check the ingredients list to ensure the product is safe and healthy.
Track athletes tend to have very demanding and energy-draining training sessions. Therefore, they need to have a solid diet in place to power through while being at their maximum potential. The article above details why certain foods benefit the target audience and the amount one should consume. However, remember that diets are sensitive and should be widely researched beforehand.